Posts Tagged ‘Fleas’
Fleas are wingless insects that bite – piercing skin and sucking blood. Equipped with spiny hairs to anchor in a cat or dog’s coat, they are armored and resistant to crushing or scratching. Ever tried to smash one between your fingers? You can’t. and when you open your deadly grip, they seem to laugh and pop away never to be found again. You have to squeeze and pop them between your fingernails…and it is a tad gross, although satisfying in a creepy way. They serve no purpose in the great chain of being, except to cause discomfort and spread disease. Whether that is true or not; it seems it could be true. They are pests and they Bug my pets!
One safe way to remove a sudden infestation is to shampoo your dog well with Lemon Joy or Dawn dish soap. These grease-cutting shampoos will kill existing fleas by swiftly destroying the cuticle on their exoskeletons, but you will have to act proactively to prevent further attacks in the immediate area.
source: Tips by Helen Fazio
FEEDING THEM healthy balanced food will help any skin allergies.
THE COMMON TAPEWORM (Dipylidium caninum)
BIOLOGY OF THE PARASITE
The adult Dipylidium caninum lives in the small intestine of the dog or cat. It is hooked onto the intestinal wall by a structure called a rostellum which is sort of like a hat with hooks on it. The tapeworm also has six rows of teeth to grab on with. Most people are confused about the size of a tapeworm because they only see its segments which are small; the entire tapeworm is usually 6 inches or more.
Once docked like a boat to the host intestinal wall, the tapeworm begins to grow a long tail. (The tapeworm’s body is basically a head segment to hold on with, a neck, and many tail segments). Each segment making up the tail is like a separate independent body, with an independent digestive system and reproductive tract. The tapeworm absorbs nutrients through its skin as the food being digested by the host flows past it. Older segments are pushed toward the tip of the tail as new segments are produced by the neckpiece. By the time a segment has reached the end of the tail, only the reproductive tract is left. When the segment drops off, it is basically just a sac of tapeworm eggs.
The sac is passed from the host’s rectum and out into the world, either on the host’s stool or on the host’s rear end. Good to visually check your Pet’s stool once a month. The segment is the size of a grain of rice and is able to move. Eventually the segment will dry and look more like a sesame seed. The sac breaks and tapeworm eggs are released. These eggs are not infectious to mammals. The tapeworm must reach a specific stage of development before it can infect a mammal.
Larval fleas are generally hatching in this vicinity and these larvae are busy grazing on organic debris and flea dirt (the black specks of digested blood shed by adult fleas to nourish their larvae). The flea larvae do not pay close attention to what they eat and innocently consume tapeworm eggs.
Help your Dog or Cat immediately if this is what you see in their poop or coming out their rectum. Let us know below (in the comment area) if your dog or cat has ever had this parasite and what you did to treat it.
Source: Mar Vista Animal Medical Center (on line)
Watch for these signs with your pet in the summer.
It’s your responsibility to know the risks to prevent a dangerous situation for your dog or cat.
There are 5 main categories of summertime dangers for companion animals:
#1 Heat: Your pet can overheat in seconds! Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body heat as efficiently as humans can, because most of their sweat glands are confined to the pads of their feet. Did you know that? Panting is your pet’s primary means of regulating body temperature. Flat-faced pets can’t pant as effectively as breeds with longer noses, so they have even less ability to cool their bodies down. This means, Pugs, French Bulldogs, etc. Exercise compassion with your Pets!
In addition to overheating, your pet can also become dehydrated very rapidly. Make sure your pet has a constant source of fresh, clean drinking water. If your pet will be outside in the heat for any period, she should have access to a completely shaded area and plenty of cool drinking water. Make sure your dog or cat is indoors when the temp climbs to 90oF (32 oC) or above.
You can also fill a child’s small plastic wading pool with water and encourage your pet to sit or lie in it to cool off.
Exercise your dog either in the early morning or evening when the temperature is coolest. Try to stay in the shade during daylight hours, and no matter the time of day, don’t overdo outdoor exercise or play sessions, a long period of physical exertion in hot weather can cause heatstroke in your dog.
Don’t allow your dog or cat to stand, walk or rest on hot outdoor surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots. You can BURN their paws! A good test is to take off your shoes and see if the pavement or sand is too hot for you! Your dog’s or kitty’s paws, belly or hindquarters can sustain burns from hot concrete. And remember your pet is close to the ground and the ground is much hotter than the air. Just walking on hot pavement can cause him to overheat.
Never under any circumstances leave your pet in a parked vehicle on a hot day. Not even for 5 minutes while you run into the bank or where ever. Your car or truck cab can become a furnace very quickly, even with the windows open, and can cause a fatal case of heatstroke in your beloved pet. Aside from the risk of serious illness or death, leaving pets unattended in vehicles in hot weather is illegal in many states. If you witness this, break the window of the car and get the pet out and get it to shade and provide water. In most states this is legal for you to do and wait for the owner to return. I had to do this one time. An elderly woman left her dog in the car for “only a few minutes”. She was thankful to me when she learned why I had her pet outside of the car.
#2: Water/Swimming: Many dog owners mistakenly believe their pet was born knowing how to swim –most dogs get the hang of swimming only with repeated exposure to a pool, pond, lake, etc. Introduce your dog gradually to water. If you’re going out on a boat with your dog use a pet flotation equipment. Even dogs who are strong swimmers can get hurt in the water or worn out from exertion. You can attach a long length rope to their flotation device so you can pull them r in if you need to. If you take them to the beach, watch the current, tides and waves. Too much salt water can cause diarrhea if ingested when retrieving a ball.
#3: Parties: Summertime is when many people host parties. There are holiday celebrations at the start and end of the season and of course July 4th in the U.S. Be a responsible PET PARENT , it’s best to keep pets a safe distance from celebrations.
Keep in mind many dogs and cats are terrified of fireworks displays, so it’s best to leave your pet safely at home on the 4th of July. If neighbors are setting off their own backyard displays, keep your pet home since the fireworks can cause a serious injury or be toxic to a curious dog or cat. Best to leave them at home where it’s safe and familiar!
Take care not to lose a pet out a door or window left open during a party at your home. Pups are over-stimulated by all the new sights, sounds and especially the smells of a large outdoor gathering and neither of you will have much fun if he’s yanking at his leash the whole time while you try to calm and control him.
#4: Poisons: Many commonly used fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are loaded with chemicals that can prove toxic to pets. Same goes for rodent bait. Don’t allow your dog or cat access to areas of your garden, lawn, house or outbuildings where chemicals have been used. Take the same precautions when walking your dog. Store all chemicals out of reach of your pet.
Remember to keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of your pet’s reach as well.
Call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately if you suspect your dog or cat has swallowed a poisonous substance.
#5: Pests: Depending on where you live and your dog’s or cat’s lifestyle, you’ll need to prepare to manage summertime pet pests like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
For daily flea, tick and mosquito management, Dr Becker recommends the Natural Flea and Tick Defense and Tick Stick. This product is a pest repellent system he recently introduced which includes an all-natural spray and a special tick removal tool which allows you to safely extricate the little blood suckers if they manage to attach to your pet. If you live in an area where Lyme disease is endemic, be sure to use raised precaution! Also make sure to read the latest information on heartworm drug resistance and the best way to keep your pet free of this disease.
(sources: Dr. Becker and Myself)
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Last month, we launched a new series about ‘holistic’ health care for companion animals. Remember, holistic care entails viewing the body as a whole as well as how every discrete part works in relation to all the other parts. In keeping with a holistic mindset, this month I want to address fleas. Flea season is, or will very soon be, upon us again and the treatment of fleas illustrates how important the holistic approach is.
If you’ve experienced problems with fleas, or if your dog or cat is itchy, ask the following questions …
Do you live in a warm, humid environment? Or, has it been unusually warm for the past three weeks?
Under warm, humid conditions, a flea can complete its life cycle in only three weeks. Fleas have four life stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Fleas take up residence in carpets and bedding, and when stimulated by vibrations, carbon dioxide or heat, adults hatch and seek out a host in your dog or cat. Upon transferral to your companion animal’s skin and coat, a flea can live for a year or more.
Have you just moved into a new home? Did animals live there before you?If so, beware! There may be large numbers of flea eggs and larvae lurking in the carpet just waiting to hatch.
Has your companion animal recently started scratching and biting herself, often relentlessly? Does your dog have inflamed sores or evidence of hair loss, usually around the base of tail and lower back? Has your cat recently pulled out small clumps of hair, experienced unexplanable hair loss, or suffer from bumpy scabs, usually in the tummy area?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, your pet is likely suffering from an attack of the fleas. Furthermore, your dear companion may also have a flea allergy, developing hot spots or skin infections as secondary symptoms.
Are there small, black or dark red, dirt-like flecks in the fur, especially along the base of the tail or along the spine?
Commonly called ‘flea dirt’, these specks are tiny clots of digested blood left behind by feeding fleas.
An easy way to find out whether or not your cat has flea dirt is to put him on a light-colored sheet or towel, then rub his fur back-and-forth. If he has fleas, you will see the evidence all around you. Even if you can’t see any fleas (which can be challenging unless the fur is white), the presence of flea dirt tells you without a doubt that you’ve got a flea problem.
There are two golden rules for treating fleas. One is to treat all animals in the household, and the other is treating the environment. Proactive management is vital, and following both options will be far more effective than just following one or the other.
Treating the environment
If you have a heavy infestation, or an animal who is sensitive to flea bites, controlling the flea population in the surrounding environment is crucial. Keep in mind that half of a flea’s life cycle occurs in your carpets, bedding and dust on the floor. An easy way to control fleas is to vacuum at least once a week – you will suck up eggs and immature fleas before they have a chance to hatch into biting adults. You might also consider inserting a flea collar inside your vacuum cleaner, which can be effective at killing fleas post-cleaning. Some pet parents have had good luck using diatomaceous earth (a non-toxic powder composed of ground fossilized organisms), but be sure to read the usage notes carefully as inhalation can prove dangerous. This powder interferes with a flea’s moisture control and causes it to dry out and die. If you like powders, you can also combine powdered eucalyptus, fennel, rosemary, yellow dock, wormwood and rue and apply sparingly to the carpet to repel fleas (for dog-only households, as some herbs can prove quite harmful to cats and other animals).
If you are not a fan of powders and you do not have a cat, try the following essential oil combination: up to 50 drops of lavender and eucalyptus combined with 1 ½ cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and mist the carpet just prior to vacuuming. If you have wood floors, try mopping with an emulsion of ½ cup lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil and 30 drops lavender oil (again, for dog-only homes).
There is a “natural” option for flea control outdoors in the form of Nematodes, which are worms that eat only fleas. If none of these steps prove effective, you may require the services of an exterminator. Remember, fleas can carry disease, such as the bubonic plague, so you need to address a serious problem decisively.
Treating the Pet
If the quantity of fleas is limited, you can use a flea comb to remove fleas manually, on a daily basis. Or, one or two drops of essential oil flea repellent massaged into the coat twice a week may be all that is necessary (for dogs, not cats). Try mixing 10 ml grape seed or almond oil with 10 drops lavender and 5 drops cedar wood oils, and use sparingly in your dog’s coat. If your dog has a heavy flea load, you can use the preceding recommendations with the added step of a bath.
Since it is hard to control fleas naturally, especially in cats, I suggest that you consult your veterinarian for product recommendations. Avoid the organophosphate powders and sprays, which are very toxic and not very effective. Some of the OTC commercial insecticide flea powders are potentially very toxic to cats and kittens.
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals,
Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM